Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has topped the times in a sedate first practice session at the Losail International Circuit with the Qatari venue playing host to its first Grand Prix this weekend.
With an air temperature around 28 degrees celsius and a track temperature of 38 degrees, the drivers spent the first half of the session learning the track and playing with lines as they put in the laps on the Medium and Hard compound tyres and clear away the dust from the track surface.
It was with around twenty minutes to go that the pace of the session started to ramp up as the drivers swapped to the Soft tyre compound. Valtteri Bottas went quickest with a 1:24.194 to go quickest, with Verstappen then beating that time with ease as he set a 1:23.723 to go almost half a second clear. With the Red Bull driver quickest in the first and third sectors, Bottas set the faster time in the middle sector.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly slotted in behind Verstappen with three minutes left in the session, setting a time almost half a second slower than Verstappen and 0.034 quicker than what Bottas had managed.
Lewis Hamilton finished in fourth place, almost 0.8 seconds away from the pace set by Verstappen. However, the Mercedes driver had been on a much quicker lap with about 15 minutes remaining in the session, including the fastest middle sector, but aborted the lap in the final sector after getting a snap of oversteer.
Hamilton could be heard on the team radio querying his straight-line speed as he felt his engine was down on power, and also withdrew to the pits in the closing minutes as his team told him he had a car issue.
While Mercedes tried to hide the car back in the garage by having personnel stand in front of it, TV footage suggested that Hamilton had an issue with his front wing. With the issue repaired, he returned to the track with two minutes remaining.
2021 F1 QATAR GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE RESULTS (1)
|1||Max verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||1m23.723s|
|2||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1m24.160s|
|3||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m24.194s|
|4||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m24.509s.|
|5||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1m24.648s|
|6||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||1m24.713s|
|7||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||1m24.790s|
|8||Sergio Perez||MEX||Red Bull Racing||1m24.915s|
|9||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||1m24.972s|
|10||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1m25.215s|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1m25.291s|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1m25.328s|
|13||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1m25.688s|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||GBR||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||1m25.757s|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||1m25.828s|
|16||George Russell||ISR||Williams Racing||1m25.871s|
|17||Fernando Alonso||CHI||Alpine F1 Team||1m25.905s|
|18||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1m26.699s|
|19||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1m26.712s|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1m27.500s|